Online Divorce – Updated Features

Since 1st May 2018, it has been possible for applicants in person to issue divorce proceedings on-line. You can complete the application yourself and, at the click of a button, and on payment of the court (currently £550) the court will process the petition and send it to your spouse. The divorce is handled at a central processing centre in the East Midlands.

Government figures state that, since April 2018, over 23,000 people have issued divorce petitions using the on-line divorce portal. The portal is not accessible by lawyers or legal firms yet. 455 applications were made on-line between 24.12.2018 and 02.01.2019, when most legal firms are shut. 13 petitions were applied for on-line on Christmas Day.

Until now, the other party would have to have sent an acknowledgement form back to the court to confirm that they had received the Petition, and the Petitioner/Applicant would then have to print off and complete and send in to the court an application for decree nisi. If the court is, then, satisfied that the grounds for divorce are proved, a date for pronouncement of decree nisi will be issued. The decree absolute must be applied for by paper application not less than 6 weeks and one day after decree nisi is pronounced.

From 16th January 2019, two new features have been introduced into the system:

  1. It is now possible for a Respondent to acknowledge receipt of the petition on-line. They can do so by registering using the details in the paper copy of the Petition / Application which they receive form the court.
  2. The Petitioner / Applicant can now apply for the Decree Nisi on-line.

The Government has not yet introduced a facility that allows for Applicants to apply on-line for the Decree Absolute (final order). This is likely to be introduced in the near future, along with the facility, should both parties agree, for the orders and documents to be served on-line. For now, though, you will still have to complete and post a hard copy to the court.

There is also no provision to deal with the settlement of financial claims on-line. It is always advisable to sort out the financial claims arising on divorce and have these dismissed or recorded in a financial remedy order. Failure to do so could mean either of the parties being entitled to claim against the other many years after they separated or divorced.

It is always sensible to speak to a solicitor and take advice before issuing divorce proceedings. Divorce can have a tremendous impact on parties and their children, both emotional and financial. It is not always advisable to get divorced, and the financial implications can be serious, as can applying for the decree absolute before the financial claims are addressed.

Our family specialist, Andrew Hill, has over 24 years’ experience and is an accredited family lawyer and a member of Resolution, the association of family lawyer committed to resolving family disputes in a non-confrontational way where possible. For an initial free 30 minute consultation please call us on 01539 723757, or email

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